Huge shark: UWA Professor Jessica Meeuwig slams recreational NSW tiger shark catch as ‘ocean vandalism’
One of WA’s top marine scientists has called the image of a massive 395kg tiger shark being hauled onto a recreational fisherman’s boat “ocean vandalism”, saying it made her “want to puke”.
University of WA Professor Jessica Meeuwig, who is the director of the uni’s Centre for Marine Futures, told The West Live the image of the shark, which was caught during the NSW Game Fishing Interclub State championship over the weekend, left her feeling physically ill.
“I had two reactions. I felt sick, because sharks have been around for 400 million years and it’s only in the past 50 years that humans have been doing such a great job of getting rid of them,” Professor Meeuwig said.
“And the other thing is, I felt sad, because a lot of recreational fishers truly love the ocean and they love the wildlife that’s in the ocean, and they’re probably not aware that killing animals like that is basically ocean vandalism.”
Professor Meeuwig said tiger sharks can live to 50 years old, and one that weighs 395kg could have been swimming the world’s oceans for 25 to 30 years.
“That means that this animal was one of the most important fishes in the sea,” she said.
“These are the big breeders that need to be left in the ocean because they are the future of a healthy ocean.”
It is illegal to take a shark that size from WA waters between Perth and the southern reaches of the State, however no such restrictions exist to the north, and Professor Meeuwig called on the McGowan Government to implement legislation changes to prevent an animal that is “fundamentally” important to the marine ecosystem being killed on this side of the country.
The academic said celebrating the catch of a 395kg tiger shark wasn’t much different from the trophy hunter who went viral recently for posing with the heart of a giraffe she’d just shot.
“That made me sort of want to puke as well,” Professor Meeuwig admitted.
“Why, in 2021, do we still think that this is a reasonable activity.”
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